In January, more than 400 industry members assembled in Phoenix for AiN Group’s Annual Live & Learn Conference. AiN — the Authorized Integrators Network — is the managing partner of GE Home Technologies (GEHT), with more than 275 dealers and 300 locations throughout the United States. AiN members are authorized to purchase and install GE-branded intrusion products manufactured by Interlogix, in addition to other home technologies from integration companies including Legrand, Samsung, Dirt Devil, Bose, Pioneer and Klipsch.
During the four-day conference, the members exchanged strategies with security industry experts, were encouraged by motivational speakers, challenged to excellence by Hall of Fame superstar athletes, and sampled new products from vendors.
This year, AiN’s conference was held on January 21–24, 2014 at the Arizona Biltmore Hotel, a Waldorf Astoria Resort in Phoenix. “I have evangelized to dealers and prospective vendors alike, there is nothing like AiN’s Live & learn Conference,” remarked Jack Rainey, general manager of Chesapeake Systems Service Inc., Annapolis, Md. “The payoff doesn’t come immediately; it is the work put in that earns other dealers’ trust that starts to open doors and minds.”
Stan Matysiak, AiN founder and president, welcomed guests and the board of directors at the opening day reception and dinner. Matysiak’s opening remarks related to the residential new-construction rebound in the United States. Most notably, he stated that “the AIN and GEHT partnership currently maintains over 50 percent market share for low-voltage integration solutions within the single-family new construction segment in the country.”
On the second day, keynote speaker Michael Barnes, founding partner of Barnes Associates, St. Louis, led a session with an insightful security industry overview, covering the topics of security transactions, company performance metrics, and industry forecasts and projections.
One added bonus this year was the involvement of Hall of Fame pro athletes who were present at many of the conference’s events. Attendees and vendor partners were completely surprised and thrilled when three-time Super Bowl champion, NFL Hall of Fame member and FOX Sports personality, Michael Irvin stepped onstage after the keynote speech. Nicknamed “The Playmaker,” Irvin related his personal experiences with building and nurturing a strong team and talented teammates who rallied around a common goal. “That’s how we won three Super Bowls in Dallas,” concluded Irvin.
Branding and customer service expert, Scott Deming, another AiN keynote speaker, coached attendees on ways to turn their organizations into powerful, emotional brands. He advised members on how to best appeal to both customers, as well as current and future employees.
AiN’s marketing team, led by John Begeny, an AiN vice president, explained to the attendees the many ways dealers can get in front — and stay in front — of more home buyers, with the new marketing tools for 2015 that, according to Begeny, “are one of the exclusive AiN Group benefits, which our dealers access at 70 percent less than the cost of a high-end advertising agency.”
Another event, the vendor product showcase and cocktail reception, was highlighted by a surprise appearance by the Indianapolis Colts’ star quarterback Andrew Luck.
On day three of the conference, seasoned business owner, author, and national speaker Patrick Healy recommended solutions and tips to inspire, attract, and retain the best employees. And, it appeared that AiN’s unofficial theme was pro football, because NFL Hall of Famer and ESPN football analyst Chris Carter showed up to speak to the attendees. Carter shared his personal story of overcoming a fatherless and poverty-ridden childhood to become a college and pro football player, followed by a downward spiral of substance abuse, which cost him his position with the Philadelphia Eagles. His message focused on his journey to turn his career around by “overcoming adversity to achieve success.”
Later that day, Barry Rutenberg, past chairman of the board of directors for the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB), updated the crowd with his report, “The State of the Building Industry.” In it, Rutenberg provided the latest NAHB and his personal outlooks for 2015, where the prediction is a “7 to 10 percent growth in residential home building and low interest rates for the remainder of the year.”
Final keynote speaker, Tom Hopkins, an author, blogger, and a master sales trainer, engaged the audience with a customized security and residential sales training presentation, which included an interactive work book and extensive audience participation.
On the final night, the Live & Learn farewell dinner was capped off by AiN’s much-anticipated AiN Group Live & Learn Dealer Awards. Visit SDMmag.com to read the full list of winners.
“Without any doubt, the GE Home Technologies program managed by the AiN Group has set a new standard within the residential integration business,” remarked Russell Cersosimo, CEO of Guardian Protection Services.